Christmas Week: Getting The Greenest Tree

The Christmas tree is the (sometimes) living embodiment of so many things this holiday season, from family togetherness to religious significance and, let’s face it, the giving of gifts (more on that later this week). Amazingly, though many trees (even the fake ones) look nearly the same, there are definitely greener []er options out there for those who want their tree to be as green [] as its color.

New this year, the Coalition of Environmentally-Conscious Growers [] was formed by two of the largest Christmas tree growers in the U.S. — Holiday Tree Farms and Yule Tree Farms — and is a non-profit organization dedicated to environmentally-sound [] farming practices and consumer education.

Based in Oregon, the nation’s top Christmas tree producer, the Coalition has recently developed hang tags to mark trees that have been certified as having been grown under stringent environmental [] criteria. The intent of the certification process is to ensure that growers are utilizing sustainable [] growing practices in the production of Christmas trees. Over 200,000 trees will bear the tag this year.

Because they’re just underway, the tags haven’t spread to the far corners of the country, but, as increasing environmental [] awareness leads to increased consumer scrutiny and better labeling, expect to see more of this kind of thing in years to come.

If you’re not able to find a tagged tree, don’t fret. If you live in San Francisco [] or Portland, Ore. [], you can even rent a living Christmas Tree (starting at $75 for a 7-foot Douglas fir) that will be delivered to you, then picked up after New Year’s to be replanted in areas such as parks and school districts. The benefits of this are myriad: fewer falling needles and less mess, not to mention that the tree continues to live through the season, and, hopefully, for years to come. If you’re local to either of these areas, this is the best choice, hands down.

No matter what you do — and we can’t stress this enough — please, don’t buy a plastic Christmas tree. Most of them are made from polyvinyl chloride (PVC), a terribly toxic [] plastic for both producer and user (get more info on it here []) and shipping on a slow boat from China, leading to a big-time carbon footprint []. Sure, they last forever, but that’s the problem: they take a non-renewable resource [] — petroleum — and tie it up in a toxic [] form that will ultimately have to be added to the waste stream. Real trees are renewable [], recyclable, carbon neutral [] (since they absorb carbon dioxide during their lives and then release it as they are composted or otherwise broken down) and, let’s be honest, more festive. And it gives you something nice everyone wants during the holidays: something to hug.